Home Tech Army sets sights on new fuel cell technology

Army sets sights on new fuel cell technology

When dismounted U.S. Military infantry are attacking fortified enemy positions, taking hostile hearth and transferring shortly to seek out the most effective factors for continued assault — “battery life” can decide mission success or failure and even — life or dying.

Models of ahead positioned Military troopers could not have fast entry to battery recharging and should, subsequently, rely solely upon the performance of their batteries – wanted to energy night time imaginative and prescient, radios, small soldier-worn sensors, transportable laptops for drone management and different combat-essential gadgets. With out the requisite battery energy to advance, troopers may be compelled to retreat or, of even higher consequence, grow to be way more weak to enemy hearth.

It goes with out saying that attacking troopers, particularly these on the transfer on foot, want light-weight, electrically powered gear for communications, information sharing, enemy monitoring, focusing on and a few weaponry. Subsequently, for a few years Military weapons builders have been carefully targeted upon “lightening the load” for troopers to extend fight quickness, endurance and performance; this broad-sweeping effort contains not solely lighter boots, physique armor, belts, backpacks, uniforms and even some weaponry.

It’s inside this broader context that the Military Analysis Laboratory (ARL) is now funding Cornell College to engineer small, transportable, light-weight, sturdy and longer-lasting Gas Cells engineered to supply electrical energy – Dr. Purush Iyer, Military analysis workplace relating to AI & Gas Cells Analysis, ARL, advised Warrior.

Iyer defined how scientists at the moment are working intensely to fabricate new smaller, safer and extra environment friendly electricity-generating Gas Cells for troopers in fight. Bigger form-factor Gas Cells exist already. For instance, Gas Cells at the moment are being built-in into “Auxiliary Energy Models” for Abrams tanks. In a way fairly much like the smaller Gas Cells now underneath improvement, these bigger Gas Cells are being built-in to boost and lengthen the efficiency of the Abram’s sensors, weapons, on-board electronics and pc techniques. Like many armored fight autos, Abrams tanks are very power-dependent and fast-emerging modernization is more and more requiring the car to generate extra electrical energy.


This new effort, nonetheless, is sort of totally different than ongoing work to develop Gas Cells fitted to bigger fight autos; it’s as a substitute targeted upon a sophisticated effort to engineer solely new Gas Cells. Most present Gas Cells, Iyer defined, at the moment are created by “oxidizing” Hydrogen to generate electrical energy. The brand new technique, which Iyer says should still be greater than 5 years away from being operational, replaces Hydrogen with Methanol.

“We’re options to oxidizing Hydrogen Gas Cells and looking for supplies that act as a catalyst in Methanol oxidation. When Hydrogen is oxidized, it’s a lot tougher to regulate than Methanol. When Methanol is oxidized it produces energy,” Iyer advised Warrior.

In brief, scientists are utilizing superior strategies to seek out new supplies finest suited to supply “alloys,” Iyer defined.

Alloys, that are substances made by combining and mixing metals and non-metallic objects, are important to Gas Cell building.

“Alloys are shaped by two-to-three totally different supplies. Now we have a mixture of alloys we put collectively, and we need to know what occurs once we combine “x” with “y” and “z,” Iyer defined.


“We glance to find out desired materials properties by analyzing what produces adjustments in supplies,” Iyer stated.

Key materials properties will be found by discovering essential factors Iyer known as “hidden variables.”

“There are these essential factors the place issues change immensely. By mapping out the place these boundaries are, we take a look at phased transitions to determine peaks and valleys which present you the way the properties of how the supplies change,” Iyer stated.

Gas Cells and AI

“The shocking facet of that is that AI and machine studying can play a task,” Iyer stated.

The search to discern best new supplies, by analyzing how properties change, requires huge quantities of knowledge assortment – a circumstance which is now enabled by fast-evolving purposes of Synthetic Intelligence, Iyer defined. Gathering and analyzing huge volumes of microscopic information is a prolonged, laborious and complicated course of.


“AI is used to go looking via the info to determine these huge adjustments in properties. If you happen to do that blindly it can take an exponential period of time. You could have this information which is voluminous and takes months for a fabric scientist to sift via,” Iyer defined.

The continuing course of depends upon intensive collaboration between scientists and AI consultants clear up data-volume issues through the use of AI.

AI can take a graph of knowledge and “work out the place peaks and valleys are,” basically pinpointing adjustments and fluctuations within the supplies to seek out these “properties” finest fitted to constructing new alloys important to the development of gasoline cells. That is of great consequence to the present discovery course of, as AI is thought for having a lightning-fast system of gathering new info — and immediately evaluating it towards an unlimited or seemingly limitless database — to seek out moments of relevance, carry out near real-time analytics and clear up advanced issues.

Subsequently, figuring out moments of distinction, and discerning pertinent patterns is crucial to discovering the wanted materials properties through the use of AI exponentially optimizes the seek for new supplies.

The method for this evaluation, Iyer defined, includes using a posh scientific methodology often called “X-ray Crystallography.”


X-ray crystallography, as outlined in scientific journals, is a particular approach used for assessing the atomic and molecular construction of a crystal which might trigger a beam of X-rays to “diffract.”

This course of continues to be broadly utilized by well being consultants to investigate proteins and sure supplies wanted for pharmaceutical medicine, amongst different issues.

By measuring the angles and intensities of diffracted beams, scientific consultants can decide the “density of electrons inside the crystal,” in line with a “Metallurgy and Materials Science” essay from the Nationwide Institute of Know-how, Rourkela, India. This course of, the paper states, helps analyze the construction and properties of molecules and atoms, such because the “measurement of atoms.” The X-ray crystallography course of is used to discern variations amongst varied supplies … particularly alloys – of nice significance to Gas Cells.

Apparently, an essay from the “Journal of Scientific Pathology” from way back to 2000 factors to the data-gathering and data-analysis challenges basic to the X-ray Crystallography course of. By referring to “algorithms and software program packages,” the essay appears to anticipate the sorts of complexities and issues scientists at the moment are utilizing AI to handle.

“The processing of the diffraction information is mathematically advanced. Luckily, nonetheless, well-established algorithms can be found in lots of software program packages and program suites. Their existence permits the relative newcomer to course of information and calculate an electron density map,” the paper states. (Paper archived within the US Nationwide Library of Drugs, Nationwide Institute of Well being. M.S. Smith & JHJ Martin.)


The intensive volumes of knowledge this course of requires make it a super space of nice relevance to AI, as Iyer defined. Alongside these strains, in a way in step with Iyer’s level, the essay goes on to clarify that the quantity of knowledge gathered via the X-ray Crystallography diffraction course of is so huge that it typically must be “scaled” into “information subsets.”

In fact, the essay, whereas pointing to the affect of software program and algorithms upon the X-ray Crystallography course of, was written at a time when people would wish to carry out huge quantities of knowledge processing relative to what AI-empowered fashionable strategies can accomplish.

Whereas the analysis continues to be pretty early on and never more likely to absolutely evolve into operational standing for a minimum of one other 5 years, preliminary laboratory work is already exhibiting nice promise.


“The following step is for a fabric scientist to take these recognized explicit supplies and do additional testing,” Iyer stated.

Aariyan Patel
Aariyan Patel
Aariyan Patel has been writing is an expert in Tech niche and has started as a journalist for us (Trevino). He currently contributes his experience for Trevino by writing about the latest happenings in the Tech world.


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